ALAMEDA CO., Calif. (KRON) — Officials at the Alameda County Coroner’s Office said there is a long backlog of autopsies.

Prior to the pandemic there was an average of five pending autopsies at the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau. Now, more than 30 autopsies are still waiting to be examined.

An autopsy can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, depending on the condition of the body being examined. “Right now there are 31 pending autopsies and there are 91 decedents at the coroner’s bureau currently waiting transport to the funeral service,” said Ray Kelly, Alameda County Sheriff-Coroner’s Bureau spokesperson.

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Kelly said at its peak, the pandemic added up to 200 autopsies to its regular case load, which was in addition to the homicide rate. “This past week between Oakland and our adjacent cities there’s been a number of homicides. Some of those are complex investigations. We have to get those done as quick as we can,” added Kelly.

He said religious burial traditions are also considerations taken into account by the coroner. “One of the problems that we run into is that we have to balance these investigations with different cultural and religious beliefs of the victims and their families,” said Kelly.

However, the number one challenge facing the coroner is staffing. The forensic pathologist field is very competitive nationwide. In fact, the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau recently lost its resident forensic pathologist.

“Right now our last chief forensic pathologist left a few weeks back. We are currently hiring a new one, and we are contracting in from the area. Also, we’ve flown in some pathologists to keep up with our backlog,” said Kelly.

He said ultimately there is one thing that will have the greatest impact on reducing the backlog of autopsies in Alameda County. “Well, what would help us is a reduction of homicides in the community. The surges in homicide that we have seen over the past week. That has made our job much more difficult,” said Kelly.